Public proceedings of the Board

Meeting of the Board of Directors on February 6, 2014


Board members present

John McCamus (Chair); Aly Alibhai; Michelle Haigh; John Liston; James McNee; Derry Millar; James Yakimovich; Robert W. Ward (CEO/Ex Officio)


Sue McCaffrey; Stephanie Mealing

1. Conflict of interest

Board members Michelle Haigh (a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada) and Derry Millar (associated with the Federation of Law Societies) declared a conflict for LAO’s response to the proposed accreditation of Trinity Western University Law School.

2. President and CEO’s report

2.1 Trinity Western University Law School

The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) had issued an open invitation to institutions and individuals, including LAO, to share points of view on the proposed accreditation of a new law school at Trinity Western University.

Staff recommended that LAO respond to this invitation. The Board discussed next steps, focusing on whether LAO should advocate on public interest issues generally and on this situation in particular. The decision was put over until the following day.

2.2 Clinic modernization

Along with an update on clinic modernization in the framework agreement with Toronto clinics, the President and CEO reported that specialty clinics and clinics in the southwest and northern regions are contemplating cost-saving opportunities such as co-location or back office consolidation. The money saved would be reallocated to client service.

The President and CEO applauded the efforts of the special adviser on clinic modernization.

The President and CEO reported that the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO) has requested funding to retain the services of a clinic modernization coordinator.

2.3 Neighbourhood Legal Services (NLS)

The President and CEO participated in a panel discussion at the recent NLS 40th anniversary symposium. He noted that the NLS Executive Director’s keynote address referred positively to clinic transformation and the need for change.

2.4 Stakeholder relations

A meeting with the CLA included a discussion of various topics, including panel management.

2.5 Financial update

LAO is close to eliminating its debt and projects a surplus for this fiscal year.

2.6 Client contributions

Client contribution revenues will be $4.1 million lower than budgeted by year end. The number of contribution agreements between LAO and clients since the introduction of the Simplified Financial Eligibility Test (SFET) has significantly decreased.

2.7 Judicial merit assessment in refugee matters

New interim measures are in place until LAO determines a final solution to address the gap in services.

3. Litigation report

This report included:

  • An employee overpayment issue. The Vice-President and General Counsel reported that the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) brought discipline proceedings against a lawyer on the Wills case and has requested an interview with an LAO employee. Under the Legal Aid Services Act (LASA), employees are not compellable witnesses. Discussions with the LSUC are ongoing.
  • A Freedom of Information (FOI) request on proactive disclosure of CEO expenses.